The Most Terrible of Weapons

Given the evolution of game boxes and their sophisticated software that emulates real life, one might think that the most destructive weapons available to the average person would be black-market rocket launchers, assault rifles, grenades or other military hardware. Don’t we hear about police arresting gang members and discovering weapons caches almost weekly in our news reports? It paints a rather depressing picture of today’s society, doesn’t it? …

But even though this may be true, such weapons are not actually the most destructive of forces used by the majority of our population. That distinction can be claimed by something that is readily available to everyone, and so very often misused frequently with devastating results. That weapon? … Words.

Words have the capacity to inflict horrendous damage on another person. They can ruin a life without drawing one drop of blood. They can break a heart, destroy someone’s confidence, and torment those outside the realm of ‘cool’. Words can be lies that lead to a betrayal, or can be truths that reveal shame or embarrassment. Used as a weapon, the wounds inflicted by words often never heal.

Be Aware of Words …

Governments use words to control their citizens. With a mixture of carefully crafted words, politicians constantly make promises they have little or no intention of delivering upon. The Opposition uses words to hurl insults and accusations, and to expose the nefarious intentions of the Government … whether real or imagined.

Words have divulged state secrets, jeopardizing the security of entire nations. Wars have been waged using words, that have then led to the deployment of troops. Had those words been more carefully chosen, more strategically applied, wars might more readily have been avoided, along with their subsequent loss of life. Words have an awesome power the ability to completely change outcomes.

Beyond the Point of No Return …

When you think of how you use words in your everyday life, are there times when you find yourself choosing your own words carefully? Do you often ‘bite your tongue’ when engaged in a conversation or disagreement with someone? If you do, then you are clearly showing respect for the damage that thoughtless, angry or spiteful words can wreak. You may subconsciously be telling yourself that by taking that one further step and letting loose those words, you’ll be creating a situation from which there may be no return and you’ve sensed that the price is too great to pay for a moment of one-upmanship. That small inner voice that has stifled you? That’s your personal ‘committee of sober second thought’ … it’s there to help you avoid saying things you will likely regret later and you should listen to it when it speaks to you.

Think back on your life to a time when someone let loose a barrage of hostile energy in your general direction. Whether you deserved it or not isn’t the point … what’s important is how you felt about that person after the fact. Once a trust is broken, and a verbal altercation takes place, it can be extremely hard to ‘un-hear’ those harsh words. You might tell yourself that you’re over it, that you forgive them, and that all is restored … but is it, really? Will you ever truly let your guard down around that person again?

Just Back Away Slowly …

Don’t be that person. If you find yourself losing patience or, worse, tolerance for a situation … simply remove yourself from it. Be respectful, maintain your dignity, and just walk away. Get some fresh air, grab a cup of coffee, or just take a walk – do something to change your state of mind. Exhale and feel the relief of disengaging from that difficult moment. You don’t have anything to prove, and being right doesn’t always come with rewards … sometimes the cost of words is far too high.

… and while you consider this, remember to focus on the Good Things in Life!


The Most Terrible of Weapons — 25 Comments

  1. This is a great post. Words are very powerful. We were discussing one day the power of a door. My co-worker was stating that a study had revealed, and I’m not sure how accurate this is but he is usually accurate with his information, that suggested that when you walk through a doorway, information and perception changes in your mind. If you are stuck on a problem, walk out of the room and return. Your mind is cleared and a solution is more apt to come with you. It is the same for issues with another person. If you move to another location, it can give you a clearer mind and energy in order to face the situation better. Did you know that Ronald Regan used this tactic often in negotiations with foreign leaders?

    Love this.
    Thank you,

    Missy Bell

    • Hi, Missy …

      How very interesting – I didn’t know that about Ronald Reagan, but what a great tactic! I’m going to tuck that little nugget away for future use, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing it!

      I’m glad you enjoyed my article … I think you totally ‘got’ my message, and I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.


  2. Good post! Words can be so destructive to one’s self esteem and confidence, especially if delivered in a certain “tone”. Sometimes it is very difficult to just walk away, but in my experience, raising a very difficult teenager with a myriad of problems, I have found that disengaging, collecting myself and regrouping has saved me many times. The words I want to say would be hurtful and I cannot take them back. The words that come out of her mouth, however, have stuck with me and do not feel very good. Always best to walk away or focus on a positive visual while keeping quiet.

    • Hi, Laurie …

      Sounds like you’ve had your hands full, for sure … but it’s very much to your credit that you understand the power of words, and the applied strategy of simply disengaging. I know it’s rarely easy, but it’s often the most loving thing you can do in such a circumstance.

      I hope there will soon come a day when your interaction with your daughter transitions into a less challenging relationship, and that she is able to eventually appreciate and respect the difficult parenting decisions you’ve had to make on her behalf. I wish this for you …

      Thanks for stopping by to read my blog, and for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your perspective.


  3. Excellent post Lily-Ann ~ words are important because they carry our thoughts and the corresponding energy of what we are thinking. Depending on the energy attached, words have the ability to kill and/or build. What we think matters and how we use words to express our thoughts matters more!

    Light and love,

    • Hi, Lyndah …

      Thank you – I appreciate that!

      I feel the very same way as you, with respect to words carrying our thoughts and our energy … and that’s why it’s so very important to not be careless with them. I think that one of the most over-used (yet, under-believed) phrases in the English language is “I didn’t mean it …” Anytime I hear that pseudo-apology for a misplaced comment, it’s a clear sign to me that the speaker was using their words as a weapon … and that, while they may not have meant the message of the remark, they certainly intended for it to deliver to them an advantage of some sort. To me, that’s like playing dirty … and it breaks a trust that I may have had with that person. It doesn’t completely remove them from my social landscape, or anything like that – but it does make me wary of letting my guard down with them in the future. They’ll have to rebuild that trust, if it matters to them, and that can take a long time, depending on the level of injury they caused me.

      Thanks for reading the article and leaving a comment. I’m always pleased to hear from you …


      • Lily-Ann your words ring true again. The phrase, “I didn’t mean it” has been a weapon in my hands as well as me being a victim of it’s use. Thinking before I speak, all the time, is my goal.

        It is better to bite the bullet, if you will, and not put the words in play because, as you said, you can’t unhear them. If we don’t put them out there on the front end we want have try to clean it up on the back end.

        all the best,

        • Hi, Lyndah …

          I have been working on that very same goal for quite some time, myself … it isn’t very easy, sometimes. I’ve been on the receiving end of “I didn’t mean it” more often than the delivery end, but still … neither one feels very good, in retrospect.

          But since I have no control over what others say, I can only do my best to be mindful of my own Words … and try to be as forgiving as possible whenever either side of the coin comes into play.

          Best of luck in your own progress, though. :-)


  4. I also find that people over use words that now hold little meaning for people and if anything serve as trigger words. When we deepen our word choices and express ourselves with authenticity and integrity we can certainly change our outcomes. I find that people will lean in and listen if we choose our words carefully. Thanks for a great post!

    • Hi, Carrie …

      Welcome to my blog … I appreciate you stopping by.

      It’s true that people tend to incorporate what have become cliché words into their daily vernacular, and for a variety of reasons, many of them have become triggers that may even defy logic. Certainly, there are some words that I’m so tired of hearing people say that when I hear them, I tend to immediately diminish the value of the statement made – even if there is some otherwise valuable content in it. I think I read somewhere that the English language is conservatively estimated at about 600,000 words … and yet, modern vernacular seems to gravitate towards barely a fraction of that. It’s a shame really, because English is such a rich and robust language, otherwise.

      In my experience, people speaking from the heart – with authenticity and integrity – tend to not use clichés when they speak … or, if they do, they apologize for them immediately thereafter. In a world that is inundated with messaging, it can be a challenge to make ourselves both ‘heard’ and ‘understood’ … so the better grasp we have of Words, the greater our chances should be. And the more aware we remain, the less likely that our words will ever be perceived as weapons.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Please come back again, anytime.


  5. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve “bit my tongue” – like you pointed out, once something has been said, it can’t be unsaid again. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing and attempt a discussion later when the situation has cooled. I see the merit in Missy’s suggestion about walking out the room and back in.

    • Hi, Jan …

      I know what you mean – my tongue has suffered many times, but better that than doing damage that cannot heal. I really like the Ronald Reagan approach to diplomacy, too … and have decided to add it to my repertoire.

      Thanks for stopping by again, and for taking the time to leave a comment – it’s much appreciated.


  6. It is so important that people are careful with their words. Your words can be used to plant seeds or weeds. I am very careful about what I say to people because I know how much power they carry. All the major religious and spiritual texts reference this power but I feel like it isn’t taught enough… or emphasized enough. It’s so important. Thousands upon thousands of lives could be saved if we are taught to use our words as a blessing as opposed as a weapon. Great inspirational post.

    • Hi, Tamala …

      Using our words as a blessing – I like that concept. And I agree that the power of words – and the care they should command – are indeed not emphasized anymore. I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing, or perhaps a societal shift … but I do believe we are not better off for it.

      But I do try to plant seeds, not weeds. And I do try to be mindful of what I say and how it might be interpreted. Sometimes it keeps me very busy!

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and to leave a comment. I appreciate your words.


  7. This is so true – the power of the word – they should be used wisely, and pride can be a terrible thing when we have to have our way and will say what we want to get it, and hurt people in the process :(

    Compassion is something that we don’t see enough of, and tolerance.

    Interesting info about Ronald Reagan. Sometimes it can just be that break from each other, the brain being given time to “time out” to come up with a solution.

    Thanks for the reminder for thinking before we speak, and to speak with love and kindness!

    • Hi, Tamsin …

      You’ve touched on what could be the driving sentiment behind many thoughtless words … Pride. Or perhaps, when used as a weapon, Ego is its flip-side. But you’re quite right – many of us will blurt out hurtful and punishing words in an effort to defend our Ego … to make ourselves feel better by making others feel bad. I’ve been as guilty of this behaviour as has anyone, and I hate how it makes me feel afterwards. It’s a long journey, this evolution of personal and spiritual development … or at least, it has been for me! But one I’m committed to, because I like the me that it’s creating – I’m a work in progress, still.

      I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts …


  8. I recently found out, once again, that when using words, especially written ones, we need to be accurate and careful. I wrote something that was misunderstood. As a result, based on the scathing email I received in return, I hurt this individual. As a coach, I consider myself versed in communication, but we all have to be very careful what and how we communicate. As always, a very thoughtful post.

    • Hi, Cathy …

      Written words are perhaps even more dangerous than spoken words, when it comes to communication. I learned this lesson well, after nearly 20 years of working for the government … so you’re right – we do need to be accurate and careful. Written words can last forever, whereas spoken words will often fade in time.

      It’s unfortunate that you’ve had this misunderstanding … from what you’ve shown me through your writing, it would seem very uncharacteristic of you to be deliberately hurtful to someone. So I hope that you are able to work this through and that no permanent harm comes to your relationship with this person. And also, because scathing e-mails can also be rather shocking to receive, I hope that you can quickly process all that negative energy and fully release it to the universe.

      Thanks for sharing this insight, Cathy … wishing you all the best.


  9. I’m so glad to have found your site through LinkedIn. Great post! Words are powerful things. I’ve posted once about a woman at my work who said “Well, I figure I have 15 good years left before I did.” I was appalled I heard something like this, thinking “Doesn’t she know that our words (thoughts) become our reality?”

    So while words are powerful, they have an even more powerful undertone- our thoughts. Thank you for sharing how our words can impact others. I am making a point to watch how I speak to others, but also how I speak of myself.

    Thanks for sharing such a great post! Enjoy your weekend,

    • Hello, Elizabeth …

      Thanks for taking the time to visit my site and read my post … I’m glad you found me, too!

      I can certainly see why you would have been appalled at what your colleague said about her 15 good years … the message she’s sending to her psyche is a disturbing one, for sure. I believe what you believe … our thoughts are what inform our word choices – they’re inextricably linked, whether consciously or unconsciously. And like you seem to, I also subscribe to the Law of Attraction … so I believe that if we focus on negative things, we will create negativity in our life. We will filter everything through a negative lens, and that’s all we will see.

      That must be so exhausting. Personally, I don’t have the energy to continually invest in painting everything dark. For me, it’s so much easier … more comfortable and affirming … to stay focused on the positive aspects of any situation – not necessarily to deny the negative aspect, but to try and make the best from it. And in my life, that begins with my inner monologue … the words I use to explain things to myself – or as you say, the powerful undertone of our thoughts.

      I appreciate your perspective and am happy you took the time to share it here … I hope you come back again – I try to post a new article every Sunday.


  10. Terrific post Coach Lily-Ann,

    Much like you I think it is vital to focus on what we say and how we say it just as much as what we don’t say and our actions independant of our words :-)

    Great post once again,

    ~Coach Mark Edward Brown

    • Hi, Mark …

      In a world gone mad with tweeting, texting and I.M.’ing, words are being so convoluted and distorted … it almost seems like an assault on verbal communication as we know it. We’re raising a whole generation of abbreviated communicators out there, and it concerns me that they are losing a connection with conversational English … and the power of words. And I agree, the ability to interpret what isn’t being said is equally as important as what is. The inability to do both presents a serious problem that is bound to reveal itself in disturbing ways as this generation grows up and ‘takes over’ … although I hope I’m wrong.

      I appreciate your perspective on it. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment …


  11. Hi Lily-Ann,

    I had this happen to me recently except it wasn’t a matter of being right but being hurt. I did not speak for fear I would speak from that place of hurt and yes, not be able to take it back. I have no desire to hurt anyone with my words or actions so I am vigilant when it comes to both. I did, however, have a strong desire to speak my truth and let the other person know a boundary had been crossed. I chose to not speak in that moment – to get some sleep and revisit it the next day. When I awoke I realized it all went back to a core belief I had about myself and not feeling as if I mattered and what better way for it to be true than it show up inside of a dear friendship. I took myself through a process that I use with my clients to clear the belief and literally the outside circumstance changed. The friend contacted me and apologized for her part in not valuing our friendship to the degree that it was worth to her. We had a lovely conversation and cleared a space that brought a new depth to our relationship. So, yes, watching our words is very powerful.

    Thank you,

    Dawn Howard Weaver

    • Hi, Dawn …

      You had a good outcome by electing to not speak in your outside voice … not everyone would show that kind of restraint. And because of that restraint, your friendship has become even stronger – which would never have happened if you had spoken your heart.

      I think you were wise to wear your coach’s hat when responding to this interaction … and what happened is a testament to how this approach yields a higher quality result. It allows for the ‘offender’ to have time to consider their words and see the truth of the matter. This paves the way for them to come back to you with an apology without having to slog through a bunch of emotional spoken litter that you’d have otherwise left in their way – and the damage might have been permanent.

      Good for you, on this. I can appreciate that it must have been hard to let their hurtful words go by without comment, but you made the right choice. Thanks for sharing it …


  12. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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